A federal judge dealt a setback to the Bush administration on its warrantless surveillance program, ordering the Justice Department on Thursday to release documents about the highly classified effort within 20 days or compile a list of what it is withholding.This mirrors the situation with the Abu Ghraib photos and videos. The government has ignored FOIA requests even though they have been ordered to release the records by various judges.
Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said no determination has been made as to what the government's next step will be.
At a court hearing a week ago, Justice Department lawyer Rupa Bhattacharyya said the government would respond starting March 3, but she said she had no information on when the process might be completed.
Timing will depend on complexity, "and in this case there are a lot of complexities," Bhattacharyya said.
Kennedy wrote that "courts have the authority to impose concrete deadlines on agencies that delay the processing of requests meriting expedition."
Appeal after appeal will follow until it reaches the Supreme Court. With that strategy, it's no wonder George keeps nominating wingnuts to the bench.
(Did anyone else notice the absence of the word "domestic" in the AP Story? Looks like the White House pressure worked its dark magic)
[UPDATE] CBS News included this little tidbit in its "War on Terror Special Report" for today:
In a related development, the Justice Department said Thursday that it has begun an internal inquiry into the conduct of its lawyers who examined the NSA's eavesdropping program.The legality of the NSA spying program is ambiguous. Even though Sen. Roberts imbibed deeply of the koolaid prior to his public statement of support for King George today, don't forget that there is bipartisan support for a full investigation.
The investigation is being conducted by the Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, which reviews allegations of misconduct within the law enforcement agency.
The Senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote a handwritten message to Darth Cheney when this whole thing began. It is clear that we must push for a full examination of this issue.